Friday, December 9, 2016

Decodings And Inferences: A Kinda-Sorta Rumination

     “Think you of the fact that a deaf person cannot hear. Then, what deafness may we not all possess? What senses do we lack that we cannot see and cannot hear another world all around us? What is there around us that we cannot know?” – Frank Herbert, Dune

     You may already have read this unprecedented story about a man blind for 20 years who has spontaneously regained his vision. Experts in the field are baffled by it; Kevin Coughlin’s experience of Leber Optic Neuropathy “should” have left him without optic nerve cells to conduct raw optical data to his brain. Yet today he sees, although not perfectly, and he’s unutterably grateful for it:

     “Now, I’m totally different. I’m a person who meditates daily, I pray,” he said.

     I certainly would, in his position. I have no doubt that most of my Gentle Readers would, too.

     However, this is a case of sight regained. Our knowledge of persons born blind is much bleaker. They, it seems, either lose the brain capacity required to decode and process optical data or never develop it. If he’s to live, one blind from birth must gain his eyesight before he reaches puberty; otherwise, the experience will cause him a fatal brain overload.

     There’s a whole banquet of food for thought in there.


     Human senses are incredibly rich. We process our sensory data with a fineness and accuracy that’s only beginning to be appreciated. However, our senses are also finite:

  • Vision: Electromagnetic radiation within a narrow band of frequencies;
  • Hearing: Longitudinal pressure waves from roughly 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz;
  • Smell: A group of minerals and organic radicals for which we have olfactory receptors;
  • Taste: Eight discrete chemical sensations;
  • Touch: A limited range of pressures applied to our skins.

     We cannot directly sense events outside those bands. In some cases we can build devices that will detect the substances and phenomena that produce them...but what of events that fall qualitatively outside the capabilities of the senses?

     Our Weltanschauung is so completely dependent upon the kinds of input our senses can detect that we lack words with which to discuss the subject. Some imaginative souls have touched, albeit tentatively and usually with pronounced discomfort, on the possibilities. For example, in his early novel Sixth Column, Robert A. Heinlein employed the possibility of waves other than the electromagnetic kind – electrogravitic and magnetogravitic – that could be used to produce wholly new effects.

     Imagine that such phenomena exist. Imagine further that a few of us were to gain, spontaneously, sense organs that could detect them and neural pathways that could route the data to our brains. What would happen to such persons? Would they survive the experience? Or would they begin to “babble” about what they can “see” that we cannot – and how would we react to their “babbling?”

     If you’re thinking of Ray Milland’s old movie X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, you’re on the path I have in mind.


     If we go by our experience in such matters, it would be incredibly dangerous to perceive something that others cannot. Even if the recipient of such a sense were wise enough to keep it entirely to himself – that is, never to mention to others that he perceives events to which others are insensate – it would change his behavior in ways that would surely be plain to those around him. It’s odds on that he would be classified as “disturbed,” to be confined and treated for “his own good.” That’s been the common lot of “visionaries” throughout history.

     The reason is obvious: The rest of us would have no way to distinguish between one gifted with such a new sense and a lunatic afflicted with hallucinations he cannot distinguish from “reality.” Perhaps we would be right to try to “help” him...but it’s not something about which we should ever be perfectly certain.

     In this connection, what shall we make of the divergences among us that spring from our interior senses: the senses we possess whose reports we experience privately, in a fashion that cannot be fully shared?


     An experience that must, for whatever reason, remain forever private is a tough thing to relate to others. C. S. Lewis touched on one aspect of the difficulty in The Screwtape Letters:

     You will notice that we have got them completely fogged about the meaning of the word “real.’” They tell each other, of some great spiritual experience, “All that really happened was that you heard some music in a lighted building;” here “real” means the bare physical facts, separated from the other elements in the experience they actually had. On the other hand, they will also say “It's all very well discussing that high dive as you sit here in an armchair, but wait till you get up there and see what it's really like:” here “real” is being used in the opposite sense to mean, not the physical facts (which they know already while discussing the matter in armchairs) but the emotional effect those facts will have on a human consciousness.

     Reality – the world as it is – is independent of our observations. Yet our grasp of reality is uncertain. What others perceive, we may not, whether because “you had to be there” or because some of us perceive more broadly or finely than others. The limitations on our senses and their shareability or the lack thereof are insuperable.

     It should make us humble, reluctant to impose our conclusions about things on others as if their perceptions and conclusions are somehow inferior to ours. That’s not always the case.


     Experience is the hardest teacher, because she gives the test first, and the lesson after. – Originator unknown

     Ultimately our success, however defined, is the consequence of the accuracy of our perceptions and the conclusions we draw from them. This is as true for nations as for individuals. It suggests that shared experiences are an important determinant of a nation’s internal harmony – that our perceptions of the world cannot diverge too far without fracturing our attitudes too greatly to bear one another’s proximity. The application to several contemporary contretemps, especially untrammeled immigration, should be obvious.

     Rudyard Kipling’s fiction and poetry provides many glimpses of this truth. Perhaps the best known is “The Stranger:”

The Stranger within my gate,
     He may be true or kind,
But he does not talk my talk--
     I cannot feel his mind.
I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
     But not the soul behind.

The men of my own stock,
     They may do ill or well,
But they tell the lies I am wanted to,
     They are used to the lies I tell;
And we do not need interpreters
     When we go to buy or sell.

The Stranger within my gates,
     He may be evil or good,
But I cannot tell what powers control--
     What reasons sway his mood;
Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
     Shall repossess his blood.

The men of my own stock,
     Bitter bad they may be,
But, at least, they hear the things I hear,
     And see the things I see;
And whatever I think of them and their likes
     They think of the likes of me.

This was my father's belief
     And this is also mine:
Let the corn be all one sheaf--
     And the grapes be all one vine,
Ere our children's teeth are set on edge
     By bitter bread and wine.

     Kipling wasn’t one to mince words. But the lesson applies to more than immigration, racial and ethnic divergences, and such: It pertains even more imperatively to religious convictions. Such convictions, even when held “secularly” and stated with no implication whatsoever of Divine provenance, can divide a people more immiscibly than any other kind of conviction.

     Are you thinking of Islam at the moment, Gentle Reader? It’s understandable. But the matter is even broader than that.


     I had an illuminating conversation yesterday, with someone dear to me who said at one point that “of course we’re all created equal.” “Equal before God?” I said. “Of course. Otherwise, not.”

     As my conversational partner is an atheist, she immediately replied that “God’s got nothing to do with it. I’m talking about equality before the law.” I started to reply and checked myself. I’d had a flash of insight. My expression must have changed, for she noticed it at once.

     After a moment I said, “Equality before the law is a religious notion,” and braced myself for her response. It was the one I’d expected: She sneered and said, “Nonsense. Where did you get that idea?”

     I counted to three, smiled, and said, “Where did you get the idea that it isn’t?”

     One can’t often see a connection forming in another person’s mind. I saw one then. It was a beautiful sight to behold.


     The philosophers of the Enlightenment, several of whom held themselves to be atheists, would have sneered just as my partner did. Yet they, too, would have been wrong, for the concept of equality before the law originated with the Christian faith. The Enlightenment thinkers to whom we’ve been told we owe it inherited it as a part of the Christian cultures from which they sprang. It seemed “self-evident” to them, so they gave it no further thought. That’s the way it is with a premise everyone around you shares.

     The histories of Christian societies cemented the premise of equality before the law in the minds of their people. They inferred their conclusions from those experiences under a common understanding of the laws God wrote into Man’s nature: self-enforcing laws no legislature can repeal, modify, or except. Had their experiences been averse to the notion – that is, had the maintenance of equality before the law given rise to disharmony and disorder – they would, over time, have moved away from that premise and any conclusions based upon it.

     Note what’s happened to nations that presumed the opposite. Note also the way nations upon which we’ve attempted to impose the concept of equality before the law, but without a Christian foundation, have failed one after the next and returned their people into the darkness.


     I’m sure there are many persons who’ve come at some time to Liberty’s Torch, have read a few of the pieces here, and have concluded that I’m out of my BLEEP!ing mind. My guess is that in most cases, we’ve lacked the requisite shared experiences of the world to see things even broadly the same way. I think of it as the “Pauline Kael effect:” no one she knew voted for Nixon, and quite possibly no one she’d ever known would have done so, so how could she understand why anyone would?

     The value of humility is made plain by such differences. However – and at least as significant – the importance of keeping to one’s own, mixing with outsiders only with caution and meticulous observance of formalities, cannot be overstated. It’s not merely possible to come to blows with others whose premises differ with those of one’s “milk culture;” it’s close to certain.

     The subject is inexhaustible. I’m sure I’ll return to it at some point. However, for now, I’ve ranted far longer than usual. It’s time for me to close and prepare for Mass.

     May God bless and keep you all.

New Fiction (STICKY; Scroll Down For New Material)

     It’s ready at long last:

     Stephen Graham Sumner is a lawyer from Onteora County, New York and a descendant of the late William Graham Sumner, one of America’s forgotten great thinkers. We meet Sumner in his mid-thirties: he’s capable and passionate about justice, but his life ambitions are unformed. He becomes general counsel to Onteora Aviation, a defense-industry corporation, and meets those who will mold his ambitions, with particular emphasis on a single figure: Louis Redmond.

     In consequence of his reluctant agreement to become the running-mate of the incumbent governor of New York, Sumner develops a vast distaste for what American politics and government have become. Surprised and made optimistic by his unexpected popularity, not merely in New York but throughout the Northeast, he campaigns for and wins the presidency on the Constitutional Party ticket: the first candidate to rise to the White House from a third party since Abraham Lincoln.

     Sumner’s presidency is not a tranquil one. Foreign military adventures, provoked by Islamic terrorism, lead to horrifying consequences. These, plus his domestic efforts to return American government to its Constitutional origins and his support for maverick inventor and space enthusiast Todd Iverson’s orbital habitat project, cause the rise of an implacable enemy: Ian McIlvaine, U.S. Senator from California. By dint of brilliant though darkly-motivated tactics, McIlvaine succeeds Sumner in the Oval Office, and contrives a downfall for Sumner that no previous president has had to face.

     Statesman is the fifth and final novel of the Realm Of Essences saga. Only $2.99 at:

Thursday, December 8, 2016

A "Troubling Quote" or, Would I have Been a Nazi?

For my first substantive post here I explore a question that I'm sure, Dear Reader, you've asked yourself at some point:

Would I have been a Nazi?

I was reminded of this by a story in the Washington Free Beacon regarding Gen, John Kelly, who will likely be our next Secretary of Homeland Security, and his "troubling quote":
“Their struggle is your struggle,” Kelly said, according to a video of his remarks. “They disdain those who claim to support them but not the cause that takes their innocence, their limbs, and their lives. As a democracy … we must support them. I know it doesn’t apply to anyone in this room today, but if anyone thinks you can somehow thank them for their service, and not support the cause for which they fight–our country–then these people are lying to themselves and rationalizing away something in their own lives, but, more importantly, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation.”
Gen. Kelly, it is noted, made this speech four days after his Marine officer son Robert was killed in action in Afghanistan.

In the United States of America everyone, under the law, is entitled to criticize, belittle and/or savage the government in pretty much any terms they desire, as long as they don't advocate assassination or something similar. There's no requirement to "support" the government--and you'll notice Gen. Kelly wasn't calling for any such thing; he states that "these people are lying to themselves and rationalizing away something in their own lives, but, more importantly, they are slighting our warriors and mocking their commitment to this nation." He does not demand that they be fired from their jobs, that their children be seized by the state, that they be banned from Facebook and Twitter, unlike "liberals" do with "racists."

By now you may be asking, and rightly so, what this has to do with Nazis?

I have always felt a primal urge to support the United States in what it does, ever since I was a young boy and the nation was involved in the Vietnam War. In 2001 and after I believed that almost anything was proper in attempting to locate and destroy our enemies. Now, 15 years later, a cold-blooded cost/benefit analysis might well say that the wars weren't "worth it," though that all depends on what you assess to be the current and future benefits. Anyway, the General's statement brought me back to a question I've pondered occasionally over the years:

Would I have been a Nazi?

It happens that I have read very extensively about the history of the 20th century, of the World Wars I and II, and the biographies of every major figure, from Bismarck to Churchill, Hitler, Eisenhower, Patton, Marshall, Rommel, and many others. I know a good deal about the era, the mood, the headlines, the zeitgeist.

I imagine myself a boy, perhaps born in the dismembered Germany of 1920 after my father had returned from the Front, my mother grateful that he hadn't been dismembered like her cousin or killed at the Marne like her best friend's husband. I imagine reading the headlines of the newspapers in the late '20s as I become interested in politics and government. I imagine the street battles between the Communists and the National Socialists. I imagine the sudden shock of the Depression and the rapid unraveling of whatever prosperity had slowly returned as I grew. I imagine Hitler being raised to the Chancellorship, the series of diplomatic successes and sudden reoccupation of the Rhineland.

What to make of it? I am German. Perhaps I'm Catholic, as I am now today in "real life." In Spain, Catholics are being killed by the thousands by the socialists, statutes of Christ battered with artillery, priests shot in the face, nuns raped...of course I support Franco! One occasionally hears about how the government has been rounding up traitors and spies--of course that's necessary. I've been in German schools all my life. Do I join the National Socialist Party Youth group? Perhaps. My parents are Christian people and they have some reservations about what's happening to the nation, but I'm sure I know better about the kind of future the Greatest Race the planet has ever seen is building...perhaps I don't actually join the Party, but as soon as I'm of age I join the Werhrmacht and fight for my family, my nation, my soul, my blood...

###

I come back to Present Day, all these years later. My goodness, Nazis are surely the worst people ever, racist/sexist/antisemitic/homophobes who killed tens of millions. And most especially, xenophobic. Word of the Year, 2016!

Anyone who wants to stop the flood of Muslims into the nation is literally Hitler! I am of course, not like that. It's troubling that a General says you can't "support the troops" without supporting the nation. I've been in American schools all my life, and as I've been reminded a thousand times by school teachers and leftist, peace-loving professors, dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

I'm quite smug that given my current superior education/programming, I would never be a Nazi. I never would have believed anything like that.

It's [Current Year], people. We're better than that. Now.


Fun With Gab.Ai

     http://Gab.Ai is rapidly proving itself a superior alternative to Twitter – and not merely for its no-censorship policy, though that’s obviously quite important to conservatives whom Twitter has deliberately silenced. However, I’ve been waiting for a few left-of-center contributors. Wondering where they’ve been, really. An open forum should attract participants from every corner of the ideological spectrum, and until this very morning that wasn’t the case.

     Here’s the first emission from the first admitted left-liberal to come to my attention:

     Little Ball Of Liberal Hate: New to Gab. Are angry liberals welcome here? I'll be respectful and try not get personal but heard you all are just trump lovers. Any liberals out there?

     I couldn’t resist replying:

     Francis W. Porretto: What are you angry about? Please be specific and provide evidence (or links to it) for any allegations of wrongdoing. I'll listen, though I don't promise to agree.

     To which she replied:

     Little Ball Of Liberal Hate: Don't worry got lots to be angry about. We can start with Hillary getting popular vote but losing election. Sounds fair to me :-%

     I shrugged and replied as follows:

     Francis W. Porretto: I trust you're familiar with the applicable Constitutional provisions. Hillary was. It sounds to me as if your ire should be directed at her, for failing to run an effective campaign.

     And now...(crickets chirping)...

     (And yes, “Little Ball Of Liberal Hate” is how she chose to style herself. For the life of me I can’t imagine why so few liberals use their real names. What are they afraid of?)

Self-Deception Is The Most Dangerous Kind

     Winners tend to over-celebrate their victories, especially the ones that were against the odds. But over-celebration is one of the ways we mislead ourselves. Consider the following graphic, for example:

     The image appears to suggest that politically, the U.S. is “far more red than blue:” i.e., far more Republican than Democrat. But a map is a symbol: a simplifying tool. What it hides can be important – and in this case, it probably is.

     If Donald Trump won majorities in approximately 2,600 counties and got approximately 64 million votes, then at most -- i.e., if all the Trump voters were in those 2600 counties and none outside those counties, which we know to be incorrect -- his mean tally in each county would be 24,615 votes. According to other figures I’ve seen, in the roughly 400 counties where Hillary Clinton won majorities, her aggregate margin over Trump was approximately 4.5 million votes. However, in the national tally she leads by less: approximately 2 million votes. Therefore, in the “Trump counties” he would have an aggregate margin of 2.5 million votes. If averaged over 2,600 counties, that comes to a "best case" average margin in each county of 961 votes out of approximately 48,000 votes cast.

     That’s not a large margin -- and Trump's real margin could be considerably smaller. This should tell Trump triumphalists something they need to know: that they shouldn’t presume to “own” those counties in some invincible way. There are almost as many Clinton voters in those counties as there are Trump voters.

     Donald Trump must make good on his promises and his guarantees if he wants a second term. Otherwise, those margins could vanish like dew in summer sunlight.

     By all means celebrate your victory. But by no means allow a symbolic representation of the outcome to deceive you into thinking silly thoughts about impenetrable, permanently reliable majorities.

Comedy In Service To Society

     I can’t praise the following Steven Crowder video highly enough:

     The one point he doesn’t cover is the absolute necessity of “owning” every pejorative word or phrase the Left uses in its attempts to silence us. This must start with the oldest (and for a long time, the most feared) of the pejoratives: “racist.”

     Quite recently I had a delightful conversation with a woman from my parish. The larger subject was money, but at one point she made an offhand comment about how she dislikes “racists.” I smiled and said “So why are you talking to me? I’m a racist.”

     Her jaw dropped precipitously. She peered at me as if I’d sprouted a second head while she was watching. As we were in a McDonald’s restaurant, there were others nearby. They reacted with equal incredulity. What did he just say? No one ever admits to such a thing!

     My companion said “But you’re—” She immediately clamped her lips together as if she were afraid that something might escape that she dared not release...though it’s equally possible that she feared that something might get in that she couldn’t abide.

     I nodded. “I’ve never harmed anyone on the grounds of his race. When I had hiring duties, I hired persons of all three recognized races, once I was satisfied they could do the job, and I was seldom wrong. But I recognize that statistically there are differences among the races. Otherwise, there’d be more white basketball players, more black concert violinists, and more Asian boxers. That seems to mean that I’m a racist. Being an honest person, I admit it – but I always add ‘So what?’”

     I wasn’t immediately struck by lightning.
     My money was still honored at the service counter.
     My coffee didn’t turn sulfurous and boil over the edge of the cup.

     Insert your favorite cliché about hearing the normally inaudible (e.g., pins dropping) here.

     After a moment, our conversation resumed as if I’d never spoken the incredible, and the other guests in the restaurant returned their attention to their own affairs.

     This is the rhetorical equivalent of plucking the weapon out of your adversary’s hand and breaking it with a smile and a snap of your fingers. It applies to every “ist” and “phobe” the Left ever hurls in its attempts to enforce the speech code called political correctness. I highly recommend it.

The "mistaken" U.S. air attack on Deir Elizabeth-Zor.

The [Pentagon] report then is saying the bloody Deir ez-Zor bombing was not the result of one error, but the result of a very long string of unexplained errors piled on top of each other. At so many steps along the way the planned strike could be recognized as being destined to hit Syrian soldiers but every time a freak mistake interceded. So one either has to believe the US Air Force is a highly incompetent organization, or else that the raid succeeded only too well.[1]
Hey. Mistakes were made. Ok? Can we just move "forward" now?

Notes
[1] "Its Own Report Data Indicates Pentagon's Slaughter of 100 Syrian Troops in Deir ez-Zor Was Deliberate." By Adam Hill, Russia Insider, 12/8/16.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wounds

     “You've heard of animals chewing off a leg to escape a trap. There's an animal kind of trick. A human would remain in the trap and endure the pain, feigning death that he might kill the trapper and remove a threat to his kind.” – Frank Herbert, Dune
     “I couldn't have stood it even one more day. I would rather have died. The surgeon said I nearly did. But I was willing to kill, and I did, and if a faceful of scars is all the price I'll have to pay for my escape, I'm the luckiest woman on Earth.” – On Broken Wings
     I strongly disapprove of violence done to me. – Robert A. Heinlein, Glory Road

     Today is of course December 7, the 75th anniversary of Japan’s attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet moored at Pearl Harbor. It was the largest blow ever struck at the United States in a time of war. it catalyzed the rise of the nation from “sleeping giant” to the power that for most of a century would bestride the world.

     A wound can do that. Wounds can do many other things as well.

     FDR’s “day that will live in infamy” might be the best known of the ringing phrases the attack inspired. My favorite, however, comes from Admiral William Halsey: “When this war is over, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell.” We had been struck; we had an enemy willing to kill us to get what it wanted; it was incumbent upon us to gird our national loins, go to war, and force that enemy to its knees. And so we did.

     Pearl Harbor was a truly empowering wound, perhaps the greatest strategic mistake made by any nation in the recorded history of nations. It’s said that one Japanese figure of note was aware of it even as we reeled from the blow: “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” (Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto)

     America in 1941 recognized the wound done to us as the action of an enemy, correctly identified the enemy, and chose war over surrender. The suffering we endured, ultimately and in true Nietzschean fashion, made us stronger. It was possible because Americans exhibited a clarity about the attack, its origin, and its implications. We haven’t often shown such clarity since then.


     Wounds may be partially categorized thus:

  • Imagined;
  • Self-inflicted;
  • Inflicted by enemies.

     We could pass in silence over the first variety. It’s a species of mental illness; the suffering is as imaginary as the wound. Yet there are many who imagine that others have done them such wounds – indeed, who cherish and carefully nurture their resentment over them. Just now one doesn’t need to look far to find such persons; quite a gaggle of them have been “protesting” in our streets since just after Election Day.

     The second variety can be purely destructive, as in the case of persons addicted to cutting their own flesh. However, it can also be healing, even empowering. Pain has an imperative way about it; it focuses the mind on the present moment and its contents. When the pain results in improved health and strength, as is the case with the suffering that comes from exercise properly performed, it’s merely the precursor to a net gain to the sufferer.

     The third variety of wounds speaks in the loudest voice of all. He who has been wounded by an enemy should take notice, identify the enemy, and react against him. Not to do so is to accept damage and humiliation for no imaginable gain. Submission to the enemy often follows...and the wounds that follow from that can be truly terrible. Ask the former Eastern European members of the Warsaw Pact.

     Whence, then, comes the contemporary strain of thought, so common on the Left, that the proper response to an enemy’s blow is to placate or propitiate him?


     Seldom is an identified enemy your enemy alone. What he has done to you he might intend to do to others, if not even worse. To meekly accept the wound he has dealt you and placate him – to “perform the kowtow,” in a classic phrase – leaves him not only “ahead in the game” but encouraged to repeat his aggression, whether against you or another. To recognize this is clarity, as I noted in the opening segment.

     Yet for some years America has eschewed such clarity in favor of a propitiatory response to wounds dealt us: “Talk nice. We don’t want to make them mad.” That’s the institutional mindset that has taken hold in our State Department, roughly since the end of the Vietnam War. One of my older essays touches on this and the reasons for it.

     We’ve accepted wound after wound, humiliation after humiliation, to no benefit of ours. Why? Are we afraid? Do we reasonably fear what some lesser power might do to us? Or are our diplomatic mandarins terrified by the idea of what we might do to them?

     This has been the case even in dealing with allies – allies protected by American military power. American diplomats have urged all manner of cautions and appeasements of the political elites of European nations that have gutted their own militaries. Where’s the sense? They owe us! In several cases they literally owe us their existence! Yet we’ve acted all too frequently as if their willingness to allow us to protect them is somehow a favor to us!

     Pure, unadulterated madness. President-elect Donald Trump’s recent chat with the prime minister of Taiwan illustrates this vividly.


     The next few years could provide many a great surprise. I certainly hope so; the years immediately behind us have been drearily costly...drearily predictable. It’s imperative to reclaim the clarity with which Americans once reacted to a wound inflicted by an enemy with malice aforethought, whether by word or by deed:

     Remember Pearl Harbor. Remember the fallen.

Climate change!

What is reality in France today?

Violence. It is spreading. Not just terrorist attacks; pure gang violence. It instills a growing feeling of insecurity in hospitals, at schools, in the streets -- even in the police. The media does not dare to say that this violence is coming mainly from Muslim gangs -- "youths," as they call the in the French media, to avoid naming who they are. A climate of civil war, however, is spreading visibly in the police, schools, hospitals and politics.[1]

This is amazing. But only because it demonstrates the extent to which a hostile and alien presence has been introduced into France and tolerated.

But it was foreseeable.

Ten years ago this was foreseeable.

Forty-eight years ago Enoch Powell made his famous so-called "rivers of blood" speech, an example of truth speaking utterly foreign to our present lie-besotted societies.[2] The "rivers of blood" label in no way does justice to the concentrated common sense that he expounded and which shows in sharp contrast what a filthy lie "multiculturalism" is.

Nevertheless, the phrase has a prophetic truth all its own. Trained seals clapping about what wonderful "progress" we have made and are making in race relations and cultural understanding are in for a rude awakening, roughly along the lines of the experience of the French people described in Mamou's article (though I do not hang the insult "naive" on the police and those others who must deal directly with "the diversity"). Stories of "polar bear hunting," Zebra killings, ambushes of police, daily Chiraq carnage, and black political pathology should, but don't, have similar bracing and consciousness-raising effects on Americans.

Forget political epiphanies. The issues for resolution by various Western national political systems will be resolved by lead and steel. I don't advocate this or welcome it but I can see that Western elites will do nothing to avoid this.

Enoch Powell was right and decades of scumbag politicians since his time in Britain, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Spain, the United States, Canada, Australia, and elsewhere have been wrong. And the people of their countries have paid the price, up to and including the imminent overturning of their societies that have endured for centuries but now threaten to disappear beneath the waves of Muslim arrogance, obscurantism and violence; third-world savagery; and the parasitism of both those populations.

Mr. Mamou goes on:

Police in civilian clothes, some wearing orange armbands, some hidden under a scarf or hood, supported by citizens, gathered in the evening at the Place de la Concorde, before walking the length of the Champs Elysée up to the Arc de Triomphe, where they formed a human chain around the monument and sang La Marseillaise (France's national anthem).

This revolt of one pillar of French society, the police, was the biggest that ever happened in modern France. Yet, virtually no one in France's mainstream media covered the event.[3]

Unreported, therefore denied and concealed.

Mamou also describes the Director-general of the National Police on October 18 being "surrounded by hundreds of police urging him to resign."

Well, that's different. Mamou's inaccurate only in characterizing this as a spreading "climate of civil war." It's no such thing. The assailants of the police are not French, but an alien presence insanely allowed to take root. War, not civil war, will dislodge them and failure to wage this war will doom France – and every other Western country lunatic enough to import Muslims and third-world primitives (which is all of them).

If for no other reason, these nations will go under in the demographic tide that, for now, is viewed as (1) as inevitable and unstoppable as sun spots and (2) evil to notice, let alone demand be forthrightly eliminated by implacable population transfer.

Political incorrectness has been accurately described as the crime of noticing. Noticing the obvious. Alas, realism and a healthy desire not to commit civilizational suicide require a lot more than noticing. But it's a start.

Notes
[1] "France: Decomposing in Front of Our Eyes." By Yves Mamou, Gatestone Institute, 12/7/16 (emphasis added).
[2] The voice in the video is that of an actor, I believe, as not all of Powell's speech was recorded on film, though the text of his speech exists.
[3] Mamou, supra.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Study In Contrasts

     I stole the following image from 90 Miles From Tyranny:

     The fellow on the left is the recently deceased Muslim assault-by-car-and-machete artist from Ohio State University. He verifiably tried to kill as many students and passers-by as possible before a nearby off-duty policeman shot him down. Such attacks are characteristic of Islamic terrorism in the lands of the West.

     The couple on the right are Chip and Joanna Gaines, Christians who star in a “fix it up and sell it” show on HGTV. Their church, like most Christian denominations, condemns same-sex marriage, holding to Christ’s definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. They’ve been attacked as bigots specifically for their faith, though they’ve never done anything to deserve the epithet.

     What’s wrong with this picture – and why do the various media outlets pay any attention to those who sling this sort of slander? Has it really been so long since the Memories Pizza outrage that we’ve forgotten the innate viciousness of the Left toward Christianity, even as it strains to excuse Islam, which openly promotes violence against “the infidel” in its sacred scriptures?

Flotsam, Jetsam...Newssam?

     Yes, Gentle Reader, it’s all too painfully true: It’s time for another of those dreaded Assorted posts!


     1. You Can’t Make This Stuff Up Dept.

     I don’t remember having much of a musical taste before I was about twelve. Before that, there was practically no music in my environment other than the hymns we were taught in my Catholic grammar school. So it came as a significant surprise to read of two parents concerned about their 15 month old child’s musical tastes...though it seemed less strange once I learned a bit about the parents:

     DENVER, CO – As the debate between the anti-vaccination movement and the medical science community rages on, one local punk couple believes their 15-month-old son’s terrible taste in music is directly linked to the vaccinations their child received.

     Deanna and Paul Melun were heartbroken after realizing their infant showed indifference to the bands they tried exposing him to, and instead preferred music specifically designed to stimulate the motor skills of young children.

     “It’s a fucking conspiracy, man. More government storm troopers forcing bullshit down our throats,” said the infant’s visibly aggravated father, Paul Melun. “When Isaac was first born we would play him Leftöver Crack, Aus-Rotten and shit like that, and he would sit there and love it. But last month, we got him vaccinated, and now he shows no interest in listening to Reagan Youth at all, but he sure as hell goes nuts for the songs on that poseur-fest, Yo Gabba Gabba.”

     Truly tragic. (Is there anything vaccinations haven’t been blamed for? Corn blight, perhaps?) Inasmuch as the earlier a taste is formed, the longer lasting it usually proves to be, I think the Meluns might find that they have a genuine rebel on their hands. If he reaches puberty and starts buying Paul Anka and Perry Como records with his allowance, they might decide to disown him...if he doesn’t disown them first.


     2. Just Because You’re Paranoid Dept.

     We’ve all heard about the “fake news” meme currently popular with the Left and its Main Stream Media allies...and we know what those folks really have in mind. As it happens, there’s more than one horse running in the censorship derby:

     BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Web giants YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft will step up efforts to remove extremist content from their websites by creating a common database.

     The companies will share 'hashes' - unique digital fingerprints they automatically assign to videos or photos - of extremist content they have removed from their websites to enable their peers to identify the same content on their platforms.

     "We hope this collaboration will lead to greater efficiency as we continue to enforce our policies to help curb the pressing global issue of terrorist content online," the companies said in a statement on Tuesday....

     YouTube and Facebook have begun to use hashes to automatically remove extremist content....

     Twitter suspended 235,000 accounts between February and August this year and has expanded the teams reviewing reports of extremist content.

     Each company will decide what image and video hashes to add to the database and matching content will not be automatically removed, they said.

     The database will be up and running in early 2017 and more companies could be brought into the partnership.

     Fascinating. How will “extremist content” be defined? What if content deemed “extremist” is demonstrated to be factual, however upsetting? Will the automatic suppression of material that matches an entry in the hashes database be put permanently out-of-bounds, or will it be introduced at some later date? And to what extent with this ad hoc consortium be influenced by recommendations and pressure from governments?

     The persecution of right-of-center users of Facebook and Twitter has been an open secret for some time. Several Gentle Readers, including myself, are victims of it. But the perpetrators have needed a justification to shelter under. Perhaps the combination of “fake news” and “extremist content” memes will suffice.

     Freedom of expression is admittedly a legal consideration. The Left has made use of almost entirely non-governmental methods to suppress free expression and communication by conservatives and libertarians. That doesn’t make it any less a threat. Seek out as many channels of information and communications as you can. Keep a close watch on all of them. And when politicians and those openly allied with political forces start taking in these tones, beware. Remember that Chuck Schumer wants the government to have the legal power to determine who is and who is not a “journalist.”


     3. And While We’re On The Subject...

     Have a gander at this Washington Free Beacon piece on “fake news.” I find it particularly illuminating that the Main Stream Media – indeed, the whole of the Left – is desperate to classify the “PizzaGate” controversy this way:

     Washington Free Beacon reporter Bill McMorris appeared Monday night on Fox News to discuss the phenomenon of “fake news” stories and how some liberals continue to perpetuate them on social media....

     Carlson began the segment by asking McMorris what “fake news” stories are and who practices them.

     “Fake news is whatever people living in the liberal bubble determine to be believed by the right,” McMorris said.

     “It’s obviously the reason that Donald Trump won the elections and this just happens to be a nice convenient thing that happened to a nice D.C. establishment and, of course, it’s based on a complete hoax,” McMorris added....

     “The First Amendment has often threatened journalistic establishments interested in preserving a monopoly on access to information, so we’ve seen it time and again from the positions of opposition newspapers during the Adams Administration through today with the proliferation of blogs,” McMorris said.

     Now, the Washington Free Beacon does have a conservative editorial orientation. However, why that should be considered less legitimate than the blatant left-liberal editorial orientation of virtually every element of the major media is open to question. Reporter McMorris is dead on target in his characterization of the uses to which the “fake news” meme is being put.

     In matters of discrimination, the central question is always “Who decides?” Does the individual choose for himself whom and what to believe, or is the choice to be made for him? They who mean to control the national discourse – the “narrative,” as the Left has so frequently styled it – must drive individual choice as close to nonexistent as possible, such that only left-of-center publications are available to the general public. If they can’t achieve that by law – and for the moment, they can’t – they’ll use memetic engineering and their not-inconsiderable power to associate this “fake news” notion with any outlet that disagrees with them. It’s for us to build up resistance, in the name of free expression and all that it safeguards.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Greetings from the F.N.G.

That's FRIENDLY New Guy, 

It's my pleasure and privilege to be invited to post at Liberty's Torch. I've not been a regular here, so I ask the reader's pardon in advance in case I should inadvertently violate the Customs and Traditions of this Space. I went back and sampled the posts from the early days of the blog, and some more recent. 

I am familiar with the work and thought of your proprietor, the Rt. Hon. Francis W. Porretto; "back in the day" he was kind enough to allow me to bring my eclectic and ironic observations to Eternity Road. Fran is many things: He is large, he contains multitudes. While on that subject:

Trippers and askers surround me,
People I meet, the effect upon me of my early life or the ward
     and city I live in, or the nation,
The latest dates, discoveries, inventions, societies, authors
     old and new,
My dinner, dress, associates, looks, compliments, dues,
The real or fancied indifference of some man or woman I
     love,
The sickness of one of my folks or of myself, or ill-doing or
     loss or lack of money, or depressions or exaltations,
Battles, the horrors of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful
     news, the fitful events;
These come to me days and nights and go from me again,
But they are not the Me myself.

###

But they are not the Me myself.



Here are some of the topics I look to cover here:

Who is "Me myself" in the current age, the age of swipe right and plastic surgery and cyberbullying and Abilify and, soon, sexbots? Can a man be "free" when he has no core sense of himself from his family, his tribe, his nation, his religious faith? Can he have his "liberty" when his attention is being constantly, insidiously drawn to expertly-engineered advertising designed to make him feel a lack, a lack of something promised to be filled by just one more purchase of a product?

What's needed more than anything else now is sanity, clarity, people trained to recognize the influencers and influences around them and be intelligent and masterful despite it. We have the power in our minds and index fingers to turn off the news, or mute it for awhile, to retrain our memories despite technologies that surely erode them, to rediscover the wisdom of our ancestors.

If we're to keep, renew and enlarge our liberty we must do more than battle in the public and political arena, though that, too, is important. I was a "political professional" for more than ten years, in the sense that politicians paid me to help get them elected, and subsequently to help them look good. That arena is important, but it's not everything; it may not, in the end be the most vital ground to win.

Individual liberty requires individuals, with a measure of steel in their spines. Or hammered iron. That's my take on one component that allows Liberty's Torch to continue to burn. I hope to make some small contribution here, in that regard.


AAAARRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!

     I’ve been suckered again.

     Some time ago, I swore – to myself only; no oaths were involved – that I’d refrain from reading any more novels that are the introduction to a series. I even made mention of it here. It’s been a millstone around this voracious reader’s neck for some weeks, as it appears that everyone is writing series these days. When I surf to Amazon and peruse their recommendations for me, I can pass the entries for as many as a hundred books before happening upon one that doesn’t purport to be an element in a series.

     However, as I’ve learned to my sorrow, just because the detail page doesn’t say “this is the first book in a series” doesn’t mean that the book isn’t the first book in a series.

     I had that experience a couple of weeks ago. I barely restrained myself from writing to the author to castigate him for leading me on. And now it’s happened a second time.

     Does anyone write stand-alone novels any more? Is there something antisocial about wanting that sort of reading experience? Am I a benighted atavism who just can’t “get with the trends?”

     If I can’t find fresh reading that’s guaranteed to be stand-alone – perhaps like this:

The Author Personally Guarantees That This Novel Is Not An Element In A Series

     ...blazoned on the front cover in a font at least as large and striking as that of his name, I might just retreat to the classics for a decade or two.

Just Because It’s Good For You?

     Two pieces piqued me this morning: one from an old member of the blogroll, the other from a very recent inclusion.

     First the old friend, Emperor Misha, who strains incoherently to rationalize President-elect Trump’s threat of protective tariffs as “not statist:”

     How about lowering corporate taxes to lure companies to the U.S., something that Trump has also promised to do? We were under the impression that even “TruConsTM” think that’s OK. Is that still OK, or did a new directive go out from the Chamber of Commerce and NRO making that WrongThinkTM lately? We’re having trouble keeping up with all the changes the NeverTrumptards make to the catechism every five minutes, depending on who or what they need to drum out of “their” movement.

     Just how, pray tell, is this different from raising tariffs (no, they’re not a new thing, we have plenty of them already, but they’re the Good KindTM that benefit the Chamber of Commerce, so they’re not statist, you filthy Dirt Person Peasant!) in order to keep them from leaving in the first place?

     They’re both the exact same incentive. One is a positive one, one is negative. Both are enacted by the state.

     But only one of them is “statist?”

     Exactly: An action taken by the State to coerce or intimidate private actors is statist. The elimination or reduction of such actions is not statist; in fact, it’s the exact opposite. The distinction is made clearer by noting that in the case of eliminated or reduced taxes, before the tax was imposed, the taxed individual or entity was free to do as it pleased with its money. Thus, the elimination or reduction of taxes restores, in whole or in part, the condition that existed before the statist action of imposing the tax.

     But wait: there’s more! All tariffs are intended, whether directly or indirectly, to benefit the state. Therefore, all tariffs are ultimately statist. Now and then, a tariff is enacted for seemingly "good" reasons, for example to provide an incentive to keep companies in the U.S., as Trump has promised to do. However, the same end could be achieved in other ways: for example, by closing the borders against emigration, or by reducing the incentives for the company to emigrate. Which of those more closely resembles the action of a tariff?

     Also, a tariff has a “constituency” that’s inherently hostile to the nominal beneficiaries no matter who they are. That constituency is far more interested in the revenue from the tariff, in taxing the beneficiaries, and in increasing its power than in any other consideration, which is why tariffs tend to be perpetuated well beyond any overt rationale for them. Many a tariff has other sinister constituencies as well (e.g., the environmental activist community).

     In the short term, tariffs can forestall business emigration, which is why they’re popular with the communities they target. In the long term, tariffs – especially protective tariffs, rather than frankly revenue-oriented tariffs – create moral hazards that corrupt the business environment and reduce productivity. Hopefully, the Trump Administration's future economic efforts will go to tax reduction, regulatory reduction, and other actions that will increase the desirability of America’s business environment. However, in the short term, threatening a high protective tariff is a popularity enhancing measure for Trump: the sort of move he’s adept at and famous for.

     Always ask Cui bono? It provides the key to many such controversies.


     Second, Bre Faucheux cites a recent Gallup poll. First, the poll results:

     Americans’ support for keeping the Electoral College system for electing presidents has increased sharply. Weeks after the 2016 election, 47% of Americans say they want to keep the Electoral College, while 49% say they want to amend the Constitution to allow for a popular vote for president. In the past, a clear majority favored amending the U.S. Constitution to replace the Electoral College with a popular vote system.

     Bre’s comment:

     Those who say we should have a popular vote don’t understand that the U.S. is not a democracy. It’s a constitutional representative republic. It was designed to be that way. And those who want to abolish the Electoral College, are vouching for the dismemberment of our constitution. There isn’t a doubt in my mind if the Electoral College had helped the democrats to win this election, the left would be singing it’s praises. It’s only an issue when their candidate doesn’t win.

     True...as far as it goes. But it’s seriously incomplete.

     The Electoral College was never meant to stand alone, the last bulwark against “faction,” the term in common use at the time of the Founding to describe a popular passion. It was part of a system intended to distance the nation’s chief executive from the popular vote. That system included:

  • The independence of the state legislatures;
  • The choice of electors by the state legislatures;
  • The unfettered choice of the president by those electors.

     (In addition, the choice of United States Senators was originally left to the state legislatures, further buttressing their voices in federal affairs. Today, U.S. Senators, thanks to the Seventeenth Amendment, are determined by popular vote, which enables the sort of carpetbagging that put Robert Kennedy and Hillary Clinton in the Senate from New York.)

     The state legislatures no longer possess significant independence. Federal disbursements to the states have destroyed some, while the enactment of unConstitutional federal laws and regulations that override state sovereignty took care of the rest. In addition the state legislatures no longer choose the electors who will chose the president; that, too, is done by popular vote. Finally, in 25 of the 50 states the electors are required by state law to abide by the popular vote in their state. Thus, the Electoral College no longer represents the will of the state legislatures in any way. It’s been stripped of the underpinnings that helped to make it a guard against maldistributed support for the president. Its sole effect at this point is to increase the presidential voting power of voters in the less populous states relative to that of voters in the more populous ones. Therefore, if the mega-states were to become populous enough, they could overwhelm the small states’ advantage.

     But that’s largely beside the point, which is this: I don’t favor the retention of the Electoral College because it’s twice defeated nominal popular-vote winning Democrats in recent elections. I favor keeping it and restoring the other elements of the original Constitutional design. Moreover, I would feel the same even if the candidate I preferred would have been defeated under that system.


     The greatest of all moral hazards in politics arises from the temptation to support a policy that’s contrary to the well-being of all – “the general welfare of the United States” – because it would be “good for me.” That’s how we get evil policies: policies that mulct or oppress a part of the population to favor some other part. Protective tariffs are such a policy: by “protecting” a particular company or industry, they impose greater costs on those who consume its wares. That a good and decent person such as Misha will throw his support behind such a policy shows the strength and depth of the hazard.

     Catholics have a practice called examination of conscience. It involves reviewing one’s recent actions for their conformance with the Ten Commandments and the Gospels. Each of us would be well advised to examine his political conscience when he finds himself leaning toward a policy which, were it not to his material benefit, he would probably oppose.

One big happy clappy glop.

"Liberals believe that their nation states are associations formed by individuals for the purpose of ensuring their natural right to life, liberty, and happiness. They have an imaginary view of their liberal states as associations created by isolated individuals reaching a covenant, a contract or agreement, amongst themselves in abstraction from any prior community. They have a predilection to whitewash the fact that their liberal states, like all states, were forcibly created by a people with a common language, heritage, racial characteristics, religious traditions, and a sense of territorial acquisition involving the derogation of out-groups." [Source not provided by Lemur.]
This was precisely the case in the founding of the United States. The Anglo-Celtic nation of the New World constituted themselves as a particular people according to the articles of the Constitution. Plato and Montesquieu, NOT Locke, were the main influences. Republics are always particular, rather than universal. The People Preceded the Proposition.

Not buyin' the proposition.

Until 1965, most of the US population came from Northern Europe, and those who didn't were ruthlessly assimilated according to WASPish norms. Likewise the Black population came from a small sector of West Africa - hardly the melting pot meme dreamed up by some Jew in London in the twenties.

[Origin writes:] "Ultimately, over the 151 years since that conflict ended, the American People have made great progress toward forming a society under a mostly ethno-neutral...polity.["] It's a complete [non-sequitur] to go from ["]the blacks had it tough, and so we straightened that out["] to 'America should be an ethno-neutral country. That's [ahistorical] nonsense, a retrospective end of history fever dream. America is now a domain of tribal competition thanks to the open borders efforts of oligarchs and leftists with a sick obsession with the other and a hatred of their own traditions. Diversity + proximity always leads to conflict. Here's [sic] the studies which point to where the United State is headed. Trump's just the beginning, and [je and] Bannon (who is only a white nationalist in the imaginations of Mother Jones types) are mere avatars of the social changes liberal ideology itself installed. And the research is [underway] on the consequences... https://heartiste.wordpress.com/diversity-proximity-war-the-reference-list/

Liberalism of course is the true ["]easy ideology["]. Everyone is placed in little boxes - abstract units of production, consumption, and 'self realization - where the ruling zeitgeist is ["]do as thou wilt[" within] the parameters of the harm principle. But actually conserving the traditions of a spiritual organic community against the globalizing forces of dissolution - that is the hard choice. Actually generating and aspiring to something greater than a value neutral post-modernism poz-fest requires concerted effort. Liberalism is a contract with mediocrity that protects its practitioners from ever being more than political children.

By contrast, ["]the wonderful mosaic of diversity["] is a series of decontextualized exotic cultural stimuli our bored last men and women amuse themselves with. The liberal state is ultimately the enemy of any true diversity, because the liberal state ethos leads to differentiation without difference.

No more. As the National Front tweeted after Trump won, “Their world is collapsing, ours is being built.” The epoch of dissolution is over. The age of a new nationalism has begun.[1]

Notes
[1] Comment by Lemur on "ORIGIN Incensed—Presidents Elect have a right of freedom of speech and expression too." By Origin, Sic Semper Tyrannis, 11/22/16 (slight formatting changes; emphasis added).

Sunday, December 4, 2016

If I Had Trump's Ear...

If I were Trump's economic advisor, my advice to him would be that his legacy hinges on fulfilling the most basic spirit of his campaign promises, which is to improve the quality of the average, middle-class, 'normal' American's way of life.  And within this context (and the context of the recent election), that would seem to hinge on two, overwhelming concerns --

1) curtailing immigration
2) improving wages, especially of blue-collar type workers

And obviously these are related.  Trying not to delve into too much of the contentious political aspects of pursuing these things (especially number 2), let me just suggest a couple of things that have occurred to me.  

I see a lot of discussion in various whereabouts which seems to suggest that people have either forgotten or just to have relatively bad models in their head of the basics of how wages are determined, at least in my opinion.  Very basic economic theory says that wages (or really, the 'return' to anything, wages being the return to labor) are determined by what is called Marginal Value Product (MVP).  Not 'number of immigrants', not 'women entering the workforce', not 'supply of labor,' etc, though of course those are all relevant.  What it seems has happened is people have made rather radical theoretical simplifications -- even some very smart people -- and ignored that the process of production is intrinsically an interplay.

To make a slightly smaller simplification that gives a much more accurate picture (in my opinion, at least) wages are (mostly) determined by the ratio of capital to labor.  The higher the ratio of capital to labor, the higher wages will be, because labor has become relatively more dear (i.e., in lower supply compared to the amount of capital available for production.)  When capital is in short supply, labor must compete hard and prices of labor fall.  Conversely, when capital is abundant, capitalists must compete hard and wages increase.

Reducing the ratio of capital to labor, for example, through high immigration, hurts wages.  But not merely by 'increasing the supply of labor.'  If the supply of capital increases proportionately, there might be no change.  Real wages might even increase, due to efficiencies discovered in a larger system. But typically, immigrants don't bring much capital with them, and often strain the system when they arrive in sufficient numbers (have you seen Houston traffic lately?) precisely because there isn't enough capital to accommodate them.

With that in mind, it appears that the two things Trump should focus on are keeping his promises to overhaul -- and ultimately curtail -- immigration, and simultaneously attract more capital to the US. Not 'raise the minimum wage.'  Not engage in crony capitalism and special tax-break type arrangements to attract or retain businesses.  Even a cut in personal income taxes, while obviously something desirable and frequently the object of much political attention, is probably not the best focus of his efforts.  I don't think much of any tax cut he could arrange would help most people anywhere near as much as a raise would.  At least to me, the most crystal clear and obvious way -- perhaps very nearly the only real way -- to address low wages is more capital.

But how do you do it?

My second thought -- as weird as this sounds, probably the best way to do this would be to impose a small-ish, uniform, across-the-board import tariff, and simultaneously cut corporate tax rates back a bit.  This kind of suggestion has of course attracted both enthusiasm and criticism -- most of the criticism on free-trade, free-market grounds -- but I think a little bit of thought could put it into a context that might make it easier to digest.

First, it is obvious that a lower corporate tax rate would attract capital, for obvious reasons.  This is not an uncommon opinion.  But it is not obvious that a tariff would -- how exactly would imposing a tax attract capital?  Free-traders would protest 'protectionism!'  And beyond a certain point, I have no doubt they are correct.  Yet I have started to think these two are actually very closely related, and one actually implies the other -- so that to have the one and not the other could actually be something like the inverse of protectionism.  'Domestic vampirism,' or something.  To discontinue doing it might be helpful.

I will argue by analogy from a perspective I am more familiar with, and maybe other people are, too -- the housing market.  

According to at least some economic theory, different sorts of taxes are in fact interchangeable, and this is obviously the case (at least to me) in the housing market between property taxes and income taxes.  I will try to make a brief, hopefully-intuitive explanation for those who don't already know this.  Most people accept that the value of an asset is a function of the income derived from the asset, which can be expressed as an NPV (net present value).  This relationship of asset prices to income is what makes metrics like PE ratios and bond rates 'work' and why making comparisons between them is meaningful (take the reciprocal of a bond rate and multiply by 100, and you have something comparable to a PE on a stock.  I usually think of this as an 'asset multiplier' -- the multiple of income that the asset price commands, which is also used in business valuations, appraisals, etc., by the people who do these sorts of things.  The inverse is the discount rate, but I'm not going to go into that...)

If this relationship holds, then it is intuitive that a government taxing a portion of income is equivalent to taxing a portion of its present value, because the present value just is a function of income and is interchangeable with it using relatively simple conversion factors. Theoretically, anyway. So, on a house -- suppose that a house 'yields' an income of $6000 per year (after all expenses, etc., except property tax).  Further suppose that the government claims $2000 of this income in tax.  If the discount rate in this market is 6% (i.e., the 'multiplier' is 16.67), the implied value of the house is $100,000 -- but this value is discounted by 1/3 on the market, because the government claims 1/3 of the income it generates ($2000/$6000 = 1/3) -- asset buyers will not pay for income that they do not expect to receive. So, the house will have a market price of about $67,000 with a property tax of about 3% (3% of $67,000 = $2000, approximately).  

Therefore -- a 3% property tax and a 33% income tax on the property are (approximately) equivalent.  (Yes, I'm rounding a bit.)  It doesn't matter which way you charge it, the two taxes amount to the same thing.  Guessing home valuations is a bit easier, I suppose, so that is the way it tends to be done.  But to do it the other way would be equivalent.

I would like to argue that, I think, tariffs and business income taxes may likewise actually be interchangeable -- and by setting a lot of tariffs at zero and corporate taxes at 40%, our policies may have induced a really harmful disequilibrium.  It might help a great deal to (try to) put them back into equilibrium.

Unfortunately, I do not know how to calculate the right values for this example, but the argument is basically as follows -- given that taxes are to be imposed, a domestic business pays income taxes in order to access American markets.  Presumably, the taxes go to 'uphold the common good' -- to pay for roads, basic law and order, etc.  (Or some such; I don't want to get into a debate about that -- call it pay-to-play, if you prefer.)  Under a regime of no tariffs foreign companies get access to the American 'common good' for free -- so they are being subsidized by domestic companies and taxpayers.  The foreign companies have no equivalent tax imposed for access to the American market, which constitutes a strong incentive to locate overseas.  I don't really know what to call this, but it reminds me of the 'moral hazard' people used to talk about during the financial crisis -- privatization of profit, socialization of costs.

I will grant a few things -- first, that they do not have as much 'access' to the American 'common good' as domestic companies, since much of their operations are overseas.  But it is absolutely inarguable that they derive value from it (else they wouldn't do business with us), and aren't required to support it as domestic companies do. A second thing I will grant -- just as a 3% property tax was equivalent to a 33% income tax, yet 3% and 33% are very different numbers, there is no doubt that a tariff equivalent to a 40% income tax would also be a very much smaller number.  Income deducts expenses, but revenue does not.

But I'm not sure how to calculate it -- it seems like a sales or revenue tax, and so you would need to know how much profit was derived per unit to calculate what was equivalent to a 40% income tax.  But obviously, most profit margins are in the less-than-10% range, especially for the kinds of things America tends to import, so likely an equivalent tariff would be something like 4%.  Anyway, I think that's a reasonable estimate, and getting fairly close is at least a lot better than completely blowing it.  Hopefully Trump would know someone smarter than me who could do the math.  And hopefully if this was done, 40% would not be the target since one would want to reduce the corporate rate at the same time.

By making the two equivalent, the goal would be something like tax indifference -- it would not matter which side of a border a company was on, the impact of the American-imposed tax regime would be the same.  And since America is a relatively great place to do business, more businesses would be induced to move here if they'd like to sell here.  And with increasing levels of domestic production, capital would accumulate and wages would rise.

But even if companies didn't choose to relocate here, they could at least defray a little of the price it takes to keep this place running...

A rather massive caveat -- I'm not 100% sure that this is all actually true.  If I think about it in terms of Arnold Kling's null hypothesis (that, basically, pretty much no matter what you do, nothing matters, assuming I understand him right), it could be that all this stuff is already 'priced in' and all material adjustments already made.  So that a change in policy would simply result in a very large (and possibly painful) shifting and re-coordination of prices, with nothing materially changing as a result.

I don't really have an answer for that.  I would like to say that it couldn't hurt to try, but I don't really think that's true.  It probably could.

Also -- I'm hardly an expert on this stuff.  I have no idea what fraction of our imports even have a tariff of less than 4%.  The whole thing may not even be meaningful if it doesn't apply to very much trade volume.

Another idea I have seen floated -- create what are essentially uncapped IRA funds, so that any arbitrarily large amount of money could be invested with no tax consequences until the funds are withdrawn for other use.  That would also, no doubt, lead to a massive accumulation of capital; however, I suspect that the capital would not lead to actual investment in the US.  Most likely it would simply inflate asset bubbles in Asia, or some other place, as Americans used their 'IRA' funds to buy assets wherever the expected yield was highest, i.e., not here.

If Trump wants people to capitalize the US, he has to make it more profitable to do so.  Maybe try some of both?  As much as I like the idea of revamping the income tax code, though, I don't think it would help nearly as much, and I don't think he should use up too much political capital on it -- unless, of course, it was quite popular anyway.

Just an idea...

What’s At Hand? A Sunday Rumination

     John the Baptist, the Precursor to Christ, called the people of Judea to repent of their sins, that the Kingdom of God is “at hand.” Thousands, moved by his words, came to him to be baptized in the Jordan River...but what did they think he was telling them was “at hand?”

     A lot of folks alive today have trouble with it. Can we expect that the Judeans of the First Century found it crystal clear?


     Among the more interesting divergences between the doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and those of orthodox Christianity is this one: the Witnesses maintain that the Kingdom of God is to be achieved in this world. Given human free will and its implications for the persistence of evil, I can’t see it. Then again, I’m not a Witness, so perhaps I’d need to steep myself in the whole of Witness theology to get a purchase on it. At any rate, the more traditional Christian sects hold that the Kingdom of God, a.k.a. Heaven, is a supra-physical realm to be attained only after passing from this life. Even the Revelations of St. John are interpreted thus.

     However, it’s easy to imagine, especially given Judaic traditions concerning the Messiah, that many of those John baptized might have thought that a temporal Kingdom of God would soon be upon them. When Jesus began His public ministry and told of the Kingdom of God through parables, the clash with traditional Judaic belief were considerable. When He said to Pilate that “My kingdom is not of this world,” the clash became absolute: either Jesus was not the Messiah the Jews of Judea had expected for centuries, or the prophecies concerning an eventual Messiah were an enormous distance from the reality, for the Messiah had left them in thrall to the Roman occupiers and assorted evildoers.

     Given the Judaic scriptural tradition, it’s easy to see why many Jews were unable to accept Him as the one they had been promised.


     Just as with the First Century Judeans, the human desire for relief from predation and privation in this world is enough to persuade many persons that the Christian promise isn’t good enough for them. God’s love is all very well, they might say, but what about my mortgage, my property taxes, and my kids’ orthodontia bills? Can’t we have a little Divine relief while we’re still alive to enjoy it?

     Ultimately, it’s an argument over premises. Those who accept the Christian Covenant are unable to satisfy those who won’t be satisfied with anything short of Heaven on Earth; the premises of the two camps are diametrically opposed. And as I sit here pondering it, it occurs to me that there just might be some value in that for both groups.

     It’s a tenet of Christian faith that no good man will be denied his just reward in the afterlife. That’s a fairly recent revision of Christian doctrine, but an important one. If Christians can bear that firmly in mind, especially in our dealings with good men who don’t share our premises, we can be more effective in this world – and not merely as evangelists. It underlines the importance of living the faith. Saint Francis of Assisi’s possibly apocryphal exhortation – “At all times preach the Gospels; when necessary, use words” – improves the world around us as it improves our souls.

     Whether or not he actually said it, Saint Francis certainly lived it.


     Though the Kingdom of God is not to be realized under the veil of Time, it remains an ideal toward which to strive. The Advent season, during which we prepare ourselves for the Feast of the Nativity, should remind us of that.

     Secularists, unpersuaded that a Creator and a supra-temporal realm exist, are nevertheless as susceptible as anyone to the lure of the admirable. Everyone is naturally drawn toward those he admires. Admiration breeds emulation, in deed if not in creed. Evoking such emulation is the most positive thing anyone could do for the world around him. It’s a notion we should bear in mind at all times, not just in the four weeks before Christmas.

     May God bless and keep you all.

Ultra-left malevolence and mass immigration.

Item: "Sweden to Become a Third World Country by 2030, According to UN."

Item: "Germany: Invaders Stay on Welfare." – ". . . [N]one of the 50,000 officially recognized “asylum seekers” in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia are working, and all are living on welfare."

But, notwithstanding these representative facts, the ultra-leftist (communist, progressive, multicultural) mantra is unchanged. There must be yet more massive third-world immigration:

While any culture can absorb some people over time, there is a pace above which only shock and splintering can occur. It seems to me that the bureaucrats of Europe have overlooked the impacts of their decisions, allowed in too many people at once without any good plan for dealing with them (as evidenced by the legions of refugees and migrants camped out on the rue [French for street]).[1]
The above too-casually accepts the value of any immigration. There shouldn't be any "good plan for dealing with" immigrants because there shouldn't be any immigration in the first place. At a minimum, there should be a 50-year near-total halt to immigration.

However the author's basic point is correct. You can't exceed a certain rate of absorption of foreigners.

The author also says this inundation occurs because "bureaucrats" don't have to suffer the consequences of their letting in masses of foreigners. This raises the question, however, Why do these "bureaucrats" encourage immigration in the first place?

Leftist gift to Western civilization.

The answer to that question is that the hidden ultra-left game plan is to overload, inundate, and destroy every Western nations with hordes of hostile, primitive, arrogant, obscurantist, parasitical foreigners and all the while sell it as something that will be a cultural and economic benefit to each host country.

These people are satanic in their malevolence disguised as compassion.

Such is the hatred of the ultra-left for Western culture and the white race.

Notes
[1] "France On Fire." By Chris, IWB, 12/2/16 (bracketed text in original).

H/t: Gates of Vienna for both items.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Brilliant Capsule Analysis

     Savor this:

     Consider: First, the Democratic elite dutifully steered voters to Hillary Clinton, virtually clearing the field for her in the primaries despite what should have arguably been—in retrospect, at least—a disqualifying scandal. And then, after four years of electoral carnage and virtual decimation of the party outside its coastal urban precincts, the Democrats have re-installed a veteran San Francisco liberal as the face of their party’s congressional agenda. To the extent that the rank-and-file has rebelled, it has not been very successful.

     As we wrote the day after the election: “Donald Trump won the Republican nomination because the GOP elite’s control over their party was weak. But he won the presidency because the Democratic elite’s control over their party was strong”—so strong that it didn’t need to listen to heed the warning signs about its preferred nominee. Pelosi’s re-election suggests that even the 2016 disaster has not yet weakened the establishment’s iron grip over Democratic power centers.

     It cannot be said better than that.

“Bring Back Our Country!”

     First, a blast from the past: a piece I posted at the old Palace Of Reason about fifteen years ago:

     Ever seen Federico Fellini's movie Amarcord (I Remember)? It's not the muddled mess so many of his other films were. It's a memoir of his childhood in a small Italian town, during the years before World War II. It's simple in focus and execution, beautifully written, and acted, directed, and filmed with an artless grace that raises it to the pinnacle of the film-maker's art.

     The Italians have a word for it: sprezzatura. The art that conceals art.

     Why Fellini made this movie, I can't say. I can say that, having seen it recently for the first time in thirty years, it's prompted me to do a little remembering of my own.

     I did most of my growing-up in Orangeburg, a small town in Rockland County, New York, in the Fifties and early Sixties. It was a place most modern children would disbelieve in, unconditionally.

     The doors had locks: snap locks that you could force with a credit card. However, this was before credit cards, and the locks didn't get that much use anyway, because who on Earth would intrude into someone else's home uninvited?

     A home with a television in it wasn't a rich man's home, but two televisions marked a household as well-to-do, and perhaps a little more materially indulgent than was really good for a family with minor children. A color television was an object of wonder. I've never forgotten the thrill of seeing Bonanza in color for the first time.

     Yards were kept neat and clean. Maintaining them was regarded as a civic duty. One homeowner let his lawn go unmowed for three weeks, and thereby earned a visit from a group of his neighbors, who wanted to know what had happened that he couldn't keep up with his responsibilities.

     Children of all ages wandered the neighborhood without fear. Parents were confident that their neighbors, and their neighbors' older children, would look out for the young that hadn't yet come into their full senses. A driver that honked at a child who was a little slow to cross the street risked being shucked out of his automotive armor and disciplined in public.

     I remember one universally beloved little girl, named Janie, whose innocent enthusiasm for life was the delight of our block. I once caught Janie toddling across my back yard, looking for my younger sister Donna, bursting with eagerness to tell Donna something that had just occurred to her. She'd hopped out of her bathtub and scampered across her back yard and into our own to do so. She was wearing what one usually wears in the bath. Archimedes might have blushed; Janie didn't.

     It was an overwhelmingly Catholic community. There were five Masses each Sunday morning, and all of them were attended to capacity and beyond. The parish priests were regarded as higher authorities than any elected functionary. When our pastor was elevated to Monsignor, we young ones were stunned that the town didn't hold a parade.

     Most of the children attended the parish's grammar school, St. Catherine of Alexandria. Despite St. Catherine's huge class sizes -- classes of fifty were the norm -- standards were high, and the pressure to get in never slackened. The local public grammar school was regarded as a refuge for the children of lazy parents, who didn't care how their kids were taught; it had many unoccupied desks. Competition among the latter-grade students at St. Catherine's was intense; we all wanted to go to the local Catholic high school, Albertus Magnus, and we knew there weren't places enough for all of us.

     The big excitement in my life was school. I didn't understand kids who hated school. It was a place I almost couldn't stand to leave at the end of the day. I wasn't alone in that.

     The town's "bad apples" swore, smoked behind the local convenience store, and flung spitballs in class when they thought they weren't being watched. The rest of us were told they were bad apples. We weren't told they were misunderstood or had self-esteem problems. When detected, they were corrected, in no uncertain terms. Their parents came in for even more opprobrium than they did.

     There were unpleasant episodes, of course. A family not far from us had domestic troubles. She slapped him one night, and he responded by shoving her through a screen door, which occasioned a visit to the local hospital for her, a visit from an impromptu decency committee for him, and departure from town for the two of them, soon afterward.

     Then there was The Divorce. It shocked the entire community. The idea that parents wouldn't find ways to bridge their differences and keep their home together for their kids wasn't just unthinkable; it was an insult to the whole concept of marriage and family. It bespoke a lack of self-discipline and incomprehensible priorities.

     I suppose I should mention that the parents that divorced were mine.

     The highest honor any child could aspire to was to be picked for the chorus that went to Rockland State Hospital to entertain during the Christmas holidays. Success in Little League was a distant second.

     In those years, Orangeburg's residents were working-class white and Hispanic families. I don't remember any blacks. I don't know what to make of that. Draw what conclusions you will.

     I was considered a little odd, because I had no interest in learning how to shoot.

     I remember the milk truck, the bakery truck, the dry cleaner's truck, the sharpener truck, and the Charles Chips truck, all of which came to our door, and all of whose drivers were treated like old friends. In some cases, they were old friends.

     I remember cap guns, and games of Cowboys and Indians, and huge snowball fights conducted with an innocent ferocity by pugilists from eight to eighty.

     I remember thinking that the Palisades Interstate Parkway must surely be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and that heaven itself could hardly exceed the delights of Palisades Amusement Park.

     I remember my father, down on his luck and himself after my mother left him, spending much too much time in a local gin mill. I remember him cashing check after check at that saloon, and the owner, who knew those checks would bounce right over the Moon, accepting them anyway, putting them into his cash register and never saying a word. That saloon owner eventually got every penny my father owed him. I wonder if he'd known that he would.

     I remember adults who had standards they weren't afraid to enforce without needing to invoke the authority of the law. I remember lawyers who tried to counsel their prospective clients not to sue. I remember journalists who could be trusted.

     I remember loving America wholeheartedly and with no reservations. We were the good guys. I remember fearing nothing and no one, certainly not the government. I remember being confident that the world could only get better, now that the good guys were in charge.

     I remember coming home after five years in college and two years in Hell, and looking at my town, and knowing it had changed out from under me, that I no longer belonged to it, nor it to me. And I went away, and did not return.

     And I, who have set these things down, have wept many bitter tears for my country and what she has forsaken. I am of the last generation that remembers our days of strength and virtue, and my years are growing long. I and my contemporaries are entering the twilight of life. When our memories fade, there will be nothing but the cold and the dark.

     But for now, I remember.

     That was the America I remember from my youth: the Fifties through about 1964. Take a moment to recover from it, if you like. It always takes me a while.


     The political season in which we’re currently immersed features two visibly opposed camps: one ascendant, one despondent. Yet despite the differences between them politically and the contrast between them effectually, they have an important commonality: both are the consequences of a desire to bring something back. Moreover, both camps think of what they want to bring back as “our country.”

     The ascendant camp looks at present-day America and sees a nation near to terminal ruin. What it wants to bring back bears many similarities to the remembrance I resuscitated above: an America in which Americans – particularly white Christians – could feel safe, valued, and free.

     There’s precious little safety for anyone, these days. Precious little freedom, too. Have an early-Saturday-morning irony on me, if you will: my remembrance is of a time shortly before proprietary communities, gated and secured enclaves which promulgate their own regulations and enforce them upon their residents, began to proliferate. Those who move to such communities know they’re sacrificing still more of their freedom. They do so for the incremental improvement in safety, particularly for their children, that those communities seem to offer.

     Of course, by the lights of today’s Main Stream Media and its editorial voices, a white Christian American is responsible – personally – for essentially all the troubles of the world. Lower than pond scum. Practically a Nazi. He has no right to his opinions; indeed, he should be punished for them. He must be made to cringe before his betters and humbly beg pardon for his sins. He should be grateful that they don’t relieve him of his life after they’ve stripped him of his rights and property.

     But I mustn’t get off course. The despondent camp wants to bring something back, too: the America when the Left dominated all mass communications. The era when its pronouncements went unchallenged because there was no medium through which to challenge them.


     Have a few links:

  1. Cillizza and Other Journos Whine
  2. Virginia Schools Ban “To Kill A Mockingbird” and “Huckleberry Finn”
  3. The Left’s Doomed Effort To Coerce The Right
  4. The Empire Strikes Back: The MSM’s 3-Point Plan to Recapture The Narrative

     And of course, we have the pogroms in progress against conservative sentiments on Facebook and Twitter, and the innumerable corporations being pressured – in many cases successfully – to refrain from advertising at sites that have a right-of-center editorial posture.

     The temper of the Left, particularly among the members of its media annex, is plain: they believe that to return to power, they must recapture their earlier dominance of mass communications. In this, the Left is almost certainly correct. It’s a thread that runs through more than just their whining. And as you can see from the links above, they clearly mean to do it.

     Link #4 provides a few details:

     First, a blatant attempt to pathologize dissent–especially the Alt Right. Soon after the election, the Leftist Think Progress blog announced that the Alt Right should only be called “white nationalist” or “white supremacist”. [Think Progress will no longer describe racists as “alt-right”, November 22, 2016] The AP dutifully echoed this pronouncement days later, warning journalists not to use the term and instead to stick to pejoratives. [AP issues guidelines for using the term ‘alt-right,’ by Brent Griffiths, Politico, November 28, 2016]...

     Secondly, a meme has been invented about so-called “Fake News,” which will be used to shut down dissident media outlets....

     Thirdly, the Trump victory is clearly leading to increased attempts at outright repression. Or, as VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow told the NPI conference: “What we are going to see in the next few years is an intensified Reign Of Terror.”

     This is a must-read article. It provides a wealth of supportive links, and deep insight into the adversary’s objectives, via the technique I’ve repeatedly prescribed.

     From the above, we can see quite plainly the shape of the America the Left wants to bring back. That America, one needn’t be as old as I to remember.


     President George W. Bush once created a furor by telling a gaggle of reporters that they shouldn’t assume he got the news from them. He was characteristically gentle about it, even more so than in the justly famous whack across the chops he gave David Gregory:

     ''I wonder why it is you think there are such strong sentiments in Europe against you and against this administration?'' Mr. Gregory asked Mr. Bush in English, ''Why, particularly, there's a view that you and your administration are trying to impose America's will on the rest of the world, particularly when it comes to the Middle East and where the war on terrorism goes next?'' Turning to Mr. Chirac, Mr. Gregory broke into French and asked him to comment on the same question.
     Perhaps Mr. Bush thought the French question was directed at him, or perhaps he thought Mr. Gregory was showing off. Whatever the case, Mr. Bush, his voice dripping with sarcasm, said ''Very good, the guy memorizes four words, and he plays like he's intercontinental.'' (Mr. Gregory offered to go on in French, but that only made things worse.)
     ''I'm impressed -- que bueno,'' said Mr. Bush, using the Spanish phrase for ''how wonderful.'' He added: ''Now I'm literate in two languages.''

     It was a moment to savor...yet it pales in comparison to the demolition job President-elect Donald Trump has been doing on the pretensions of the Main Stream Media. And it’s imperative that Trump continue his campaign, unto those media’s total destruction.

     The Left’s three most potent weapons are the entertainment industry, the educational institutions, and the so-called news media. If these can be neutralized, and a sufficiency of alternatives can be provided, the incoming Trump Administration will have a much better chance of carrying through on its agenda. But make no mistake: the Left will defend its bastions with total ferocity, while doing everything it can to delegitimize the alternatives the Internet, talk radio, and low-cost cablecasting have made possible.


     Two visions of America are locked in mortal combat. One at most can prevail. Indeed, it’s possible neither will survive, given the possibility of a fragmentation of the Republic. What would follow might include a mass movement of population between “red” and “blue” regions, akin to the mass exodus of Bengalis into India after the political upheavals of 1970 and 1971.

     Each vision is founded on a conception of a past America. Both are largely accurate. (That says nothing about either one’s desirability.) And both have millions of allegiants. What those allegiants are willing to do – and to sacrifice – to have the America they yearn to restore will determine the sort of future America we and our descendants will enjoy or endure.